In a case of life imitating art, the Cleveland Browns made some ambitious draft-day trades in May to land a college football star who they hope can turn around their franchise. Heisman trophy winner Johnny Manziel will be holding a clipboard when the real Browns open their season next week, but he’s already been anointed a savior by a city that hasn’t won an NFL title since 1964. In Ivan Reitman’s movie, Draft Day, Kevin Costner stars as Sonny Weaver Jr., the Browns’ embattled general manager faced with a make-or-break draft to reverse the team’s losing fortunes and save his job. His billionaire boss (Frank Langella) wants a big name who can sell seats, his own mother (Ellen Burstyn) is leaking inside scoops on Twitter, and his salary-cap guru (Jennifer Garner) is pregnant … with his baby. No pressure.
While the film is Sonny’s story—and Costner successfully adds another credit to his sports-movie Hall of Fame career—Garner’s character, Ali, is a beguiling mix of beauty and smarts. As a woman who’s risen to the upper echelon of an NFL team’s braintrust, she’s every bit Sonny’s equal, but the film only hints at her fascinating background. In one of the deleted scenes on the new Blu-ray, which comes out on Tuesday, she explains to the team’s head coach (Denis Leary) how she got connected to the Browns in the first place.
“It’s kind of my character’s backstory,” Garner says in one of the Blu-ray extras, “With backstory scenes, as you’re shooting them, you know that the chances of a backstory scene making it in the film are very small because you just don’t have time to delve into everyone’s story. But it was really fun to shoot.”